Monday, August 24, 2009

Rimouski, Quebec - Empress of Ireland

Sunday August 2, 2009
Carol is convinced she was aboard the HMS Bounty. She's been obsessed with the story after reading the historical account in “The Bounty”, by Caroline Alexander about four times. She loves any historic tall sailing ship and has a fascination with the high seas and shipwrecks. So when we learned of a shipwreck right off the coast, and a museum dedicated to it, we had to stay an extra day. When we got to the harbor we were thrilled to discover not only the “Empress of Ireland” museum, but there was also a guided tour of a 19th century Lighthouse, and a self-guided tour through one of Canada's retired attack class submarines “The Rimouski”. Carol purchased the full package. It was going to be a big day.
The tragic story of the sinking of the Empress and the ensuing loss of life is not well known (an ocean liner the size of the Titanic sinking in 14 minutes), and what is interesting is that it occurred just weeks before the outbreak of World War One, and soon became a forgotten story. Sitting on the bottom of the St. Lawrence river in only 100 feet of water and five miles off the coast from where we stood, it became a diver's paradise when it was rediscovered in 1966. The artifacts in the museum are similar to those from the Titanic; goods and possessions worn by people who had no idea of what was about to happen. A chilling reminder to me on how fast things can change. We had gone to the Titanic Exhibit in Denver a few years ago, and we both remarked on the similarity.

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